Electricity From Clean Renewable Energy Sources

February 16, 2017

Portland General Electric (PGE) wants to build 2 new gas fired electrical power plants next door to the Boardman Coal Plant. If allowed to go forward these plants would lock us into another 40 years of emissions from fracked gas and destroy our chance to move to a clean energy future.

210 kW PV system at SMUD's Hedge substation that is used for grid support

Last year Portland General Electric (PGE) came to the table to help pass the groundbreaking Clean Electricity and Coal Transition Act. They committed to sunset their coal use in Oregon and double their clean energy commitments.

Now, less than a year later, PGE has already violated the spirit of our partnership by proposing huge investments in fossil fuel infrastructure. Building new gas-fired power plants will lock Oregon into decades of climate-disrupting fossil fuel energy at a moment when clean energy sources like wind and solar are more affordable than ever. This is the wrong path for our state, and a disappointing step backward from Oregon’s largest utility.

Oregon doesn’t need more fossil fuel powered electricity. PGE’s own analysis concluded that it can meet customers’ power needs reliably and affordably by investing in renewable energy rather than dirty fossil fuels. Plus, the science is clear: from extraction to production to consumption, gas is a dirty fuel that produces significant amounts of pollution.

The Sierra Club is working with a broad coalition of groups to stop Portland General Electric’s plan to build two new gas-fired power plants next door to their Boardman coal plant.

Like all of our campaigns, our strength comes from the bottom up.  So we need people like you get informed and organize our community to stand up to PGE and say “no” to new fossil fuels.  They have financial and political power, so we must have organized people power.  

Join us to learn about our shared campaign to get PGE to break their addiction to fossil fuels.

There is widespread public support for moving away from expanding fossil fuel use and towards clean, renewable energy. People recognize that the only way to lesson the worst impacts of climate change to start NOW, with no more new fossil fuels added to our energy supplies.

For more information Contact:
Gregory Monahan
Chair, Beyond Gas & Oil Team
at: gregory.monahan@oregon.sierraclub.org


We welcome a new face!

February 15, 2017

Version 2

Nakisha Nathan joins us as our new Organizer. In her new role, she will start off with legislative organizing the clean energy jobs bills, and other climate work.

Nakisha’s love for nature and commitment to Environmental Justice stem from spending her formative years living in Panama, Canada, Texas and throughout the United States.

A few years after graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in bioenvironmental science, Nakisha began her community organizing journey with Texas Campaign for the Environment (TCE) where she and her colleagues generated statewide pressure that helped convince Dell and Apple Computers to establish a free Computer TakeBack program.

In the Summer of 2012, Nakisha moved to Portland and began her studies toward earning a Master of Science degree in Education, with a specialization in Leadership for Sustainability Education from Portland State University. During her time at PSU, she worked as a  STEAM Garden Educator, cultivating students’ curiosity and facilitating experiential learning opportunities.

She joins Sierra Club after working as a Community and Environmental Justice Organizer with Neighbors for Clean Air, and as the Program Coordinator for the Organizer-in-Training program at OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon.

When she’s not at work, Nakisha can be found playing a variety of games with her friends and family; camping with her partner and two dogs; photographing Oregon’s natural landscapes, flora and fauna; or, gleefully pursuing her quest to find every member of the Araucaria araucana species in Portland.


Developing a Rapid Response Team

January 26, 2017

In response to the Trump administration’s anti-environment, anti-justice agenda – Oregon Sierra Club is creating a state-based Rapid Response Team. The Rapid Response Team is a powerful network of grassroots volunteers who want to take immediate and regular action to defend Oregon’s progress and values. By uniting and raising our voices, we will defend justice and equity in our communities; ensure clean air and clean water; protect public lands, forests, fish and wildlife; and continue our transition to a clean energy economy.

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This team will offer opportunities to build highly skilled volunteer organizers and leaders, foster movement building through cross-issue events, and push Washington, D.C. and local decision-makers to stand strong on key issues. 

Please fill out our Rapid Response Team form so we can let you know when we need your help and support. And stay tuned for more information.


Getting ready for the 2017 session of the Oregon Legislature

January 25, 2017

state capitolIn some ways, it feels like we just recessed from the 2016 legislative session, in which we had several real victories, like passing the historic Clean Electricity Coal Transition bill. But we’re already headed back to Salem next week for the 2017 session, which is going to be a tough one on many fronts (see this Oregonian article for some perspective). Nevertheless, we are hopeful for some good outcomes and here are a few of the issues we’ll be working on.

For the past several sessions, we have been a part of a coalition working to try to put a price on carbon in Oregon. We have gone through various iterations of “cap and trade” and “cap and delegate” bills and have had some good hearings and debates in the legislature. This year the Oregon Chapter’s top legislative priority will be to pass a “Clean Energy Jobs bill.” Legislators have put a lot of solutions forward so far, but for us to back a specific bill, it needs to meet our principles of an enforceable limit on emissions, a price on pollution, and equitable reinvestment in our communities. We’re working with legislators now to come up with the best solution for Oregon to create Clean Energy Jobs and hold polluters accountable. It is long past time to act on greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon; stay tuned for more details on this legislation and how you can help pass it.

Another climate bill we’ll be spending some time on is an idea called the “Climate Test.” In essence, it is a scaled-down version of a State Environmental Policy Act that would apply to fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Oregon. Like the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), it would require cross-agency communications to consider the impacts of proposed fossil fuel infrastructure projects. Such proposed projects would also be subject to an environmental impact statement (EIS) with full lifecycle accounting of the project’s greenhouse gas emissions, coupled with an economic analysis that will show whether a project is viable in a world where climate goals are met.

Our other top priority, along with the Clean Energy Jobs bill, will be to pass legislation that can help to solve the ongoing conundrum with the Elliott State Forest. As many of you will know, the Elliott has been the subject of much debate recently, as the State Land Board tries to dispose of it in order to satisfy its obligations to the Common School Fund. It’s not entirely clear just yet what form that legislation will take in the 2017 session. A Trust Lands Transfer bill similar to what we worked on in the 2015 session could be a part of that solution. But it’s clear we will need to think even bigger than that if we want to truly solve the Elliott problem.

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Other proactive legislation we will be working on is a package of bills to address the critical issue of oil trains in our state; we need to both improve safety and cleanup standards for the trains that are coming through Oregon, and make it more difficult to site oil trains terminals here. We will also be working on a bill to limit the impacts of suction dredge mining on our state’s waters. There will also be a very large discussion in the 2017 session about finding a transportation package for the state, which has the potential to suck all the air out of the proverbial room, but which we’ll track and engage on as appropriate. Finally, we will play a supportive role on efforts to create more stringent standards for diesel emissions in Oregon.

Of course, we will be playing defense and fighting off bad bills at every turn as well. There will be the inevitable attempts to roll back public lands protections or hand some lands over to counties or private entities. There will be terrible wildlife bills to contend with, and indeed there are already bills out there again to lift the ban on hunting cougars with dogs. And the gigantic budget hole the state is facing will complicate everything in ways we can’t even imagine.

In short, the 2017 session will be fraught with both hazards and opportunities, and we hope to make the best of the latter while avoiding the former to the extent we can. As always, our success will depend largely on you, so stay tuned to find out how you can plug in to make a difference for Oregon.


Unite Against Hate with the One Oregon Coalition

January 11, 2017

It’s been two months since the election and I’m still reeling.

Donald Trump’s victory represents an assault on people of color – undocumented people and  other immigrants in particular. The Southern Poverty Law Center documented over 700 hate crimes committed in the week following the election. The danger for LGBTQ people, people of color, immigrants, refugees, people of Muslim faith and others with marginalized identities is very real, and will only grow after inauguration day.

The Sierra Club will not be silent in the face of injustice. We will not sit idly by as our volunteers, our staff, and our friends and neighbors are deported. We will unite in the face of hatred and rise to the greatest challenge the modern progressive movement has ever faced.

That’s why we’re in solidarity with the One Oregon Coalition, ready to fight against inhumane new immigration laws and policies at every turn. We are mobilizing to Salem on Saturday January 14th for the United for Immigrant Rights March and Rally.  We’ll have an #envirosforimmigrantrights contingency, wearing green scarves. Please join us.

WHAT:  United for Immigrant Rights March and Rally

WHERE: Oregon State Capitol Front Steps, 900 Court St NE, Salem, Oregon 97301

WHEN: Saturday, January 14th, 11:30 am – 3:00 pm

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See here for transportation from Portland thanks to The Bus Project and the event Facebook page.

We support Black Lives Matter and the Movement for Black Lives in their struggle for basic human dignity and respect for the sanctity of human life. We stand with the Standing Rock Sioux, and with all Indigenous people around the globe fighting for their sovereignty and right to self-determination. We are ready to confront any and all challenges to the safety of our queer and trans friends and family and to women’s right to control their own bodies. Now more than ever, we must clearly and loudly articulate our solidarity with all people threatened by the frighteningly violent and nativist rhetoric coming from the new presidential administration.

The Sierra Club’s mission is to “enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment.” The human and social environment in which we live just got a whole lot less safe and healthy for a whole lot of folks. It is our mission, our obligation and our moral imperative as people of conscience to resist any attempts from our federal government to tear apart Oregon families with attacks on immigrant and refugee communities.

This is not normal, and will never be normal. On January 20th when Donald Trump takes office, I will be in the streets, marching arm in arm with my community to express our resistance to the racist, sexist, homophobic and nativist policies he has promised to enact. And before then, we hope you’ll join us on January 14th, to rally to make sure that immigrant and refugee communities know that folks with privilege have their backs.

History has its eye on us in this dark moment. This is a time we’ll all remember for the rest of our lives, and we haven’t got a second to waste.  Today I ask you to join me in committing to stand with the One Oregon Coalition against hate – and I hope to see you in the streets on January 14th and January 20th.

Erica Stock

Executive Director, Oregon Chapter of the Sierra Club


New Report Highlights 10 Wildlife Conservation Priorities for the Trump Administration

December 21, 2016

Among list of imperiled species are Wild Snake River spring/summer Chinook salmon, threatened by four lower Snake River dams, climate change

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The report, “removing the Walls to Recovery: Top 10 Species Priorities for a New Administration <http://removingthewallstorecovery.org/> ,” highlights some of the most significant threats to vanishing wildlife such as wild salmon, jaguars and elephants, and identifies important actions the next administration could take to stop their decline and begin to rebuild these populations.

The report includes the imperiled wild Snake River spring/summer Chinook, threatened by four aging and outdated dams on the lower Snake River.

“We nominated Snake River chinook for this report because with climate change, these four money-losing dams become deadlier each summer, when reservoir water temperatures become lethally hot, causing fish kills” said Save Our Wild Salmon Inland Northwest Director Sam Mace.  “But if we free the Snake River of these dams, wild salmon will once again access thousands of miles of pristine, high-elevation habitat that can provide an ark for salmon in a warming world.”

Snake River Chinook salmon, are among the longest and highest-migrating salmon on the planet – often swimming 1,000 miles upstream and climbing more than 6,000 feet in elevation to reach their spawning grounds. More than 130 other species depend upon salmon, including orcas, bears and eagles.

“Since Northwest rivers began to flow, a population of orcas known as the Southern Residents have relied on Columbia basin salmon to sustain them.  Spring chinook that spawn in the Snake River basin are especially critical for survival of this unique and now endangered orca community.  Unfortunately, the lower Snake River dams have decimated this critical food source.  The impact these dams have on this precious, but dwindling, population of orcas, must be addressed.” said Howard Garrett, Board President of Orca Network.

Some of the species in the report, such as the Joshua tree and Elkhorn coral are foundational species, which play a critical role as building blocks for their ecosystems, but are threatened by global climate change.

Other critically important species in the report are keystone species, such as Hawaii’s yellow-faced bee, the jaguar, and the Snake River salmon. All keystone species have a disproportionately large impact on other species and ecosystems, relative to their abundance. For instance, Hawaii’s yellow-faced bee is a pollinator impacted by habitat loss.

The jaguar of the southwest United States is a keystone predator. It is particularly threatened by habitat fragmentation caused, in part, due to impenetrable immigration barriers along the U.S. – Mexican border. The report urges Mr. Trump to abandon plans to further fortify the southern border, and to make existing barriers more wildlife-friendly.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declined to list the greater sage grouse—an umbrella species—as endangered in 2014, citing an unprecedented region-wide habitat conservation effort, tied to state and federal conservation plans. However, several appropriations riders offered in Congress in 2016 would block implementation of these conservation plans, as well as any future Endangered Species Act protections for the imperiled bird. Meanwhile, grouse numbers have declined by 90 percent from historic levels. Protecting umbrella species like sage grouse conserves habitats on which many other species rely.

“Our native fish, plants and wildlife are critically valuable and part of the legacy we leave for future generations of Americans,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We hope the next administration takes seriously its responsibility to protect endangered species and habitat. The fate of species is in their hands. Their actions could dictate whether species such as the vaquita, the red wolf, and others, become extinct in the wild.”

The remaining species featured in the Endangered Species Coalition’s report include the African elephant, Bald cypress tree, the wolf, and thevaquita – a small endangered Mexican porpoise.

Endangered Species Coalition member groups nominated wildlife species for the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the final report. The full report, along with links to photos and additional species information can be viewed and downloaded <http://removingthewallstorecovery.org/> from the website, http://removingthewallstorecovery.org<http://removingthewallstorecovery.org> .

The Endangered Species Coalition produces a “Top 10” report annually, focusing on a different theme each year. Previous years’ reports<http://www.endangered.org/campaigns/annual-top-ten-report> are also available on the Coalition’s website.

This report is a re-post from Sam Mace, Inland NW Director, Save Our Wild Salmon sam@wildsalmon.org


PGE Tests Biomass at Boardman Coal Plant – New Report Highlights Climate and Forest Consequences for Country’s Largest Biomass Proposal

December 20, 2016

On December 7th, 2016, we released a report analyzing a proposal from Portland General Electric (PGE) to convert the state’s last coal plant in Boardman, Oregon into one of the world’s largest biomass facilities. The report finds that the proposal may pose major implications for air quality, forest health, and carbon reduction goals. The Boardman Power Plant in northern Oregon is slated to retire in 2020. However, this month, staff are testing the plant’s capacity to run on woody material and energy crops. If the test succeeds, the Boardman plant could be converted to run on 100 percent forest biomass for 5 months of the year.

The new report demonstrates the likely implications if the conversion is made. Key findings include:

 An average biomass power facility emits 40-60% more carbon than coal plants do per megawatt hour of energy generated.

 Over 3.8 million tons of trees and woody material would be needed to operate the plant for 5 months a year. Despite claims by biomass advocates, waste feedstock levels are negligible when compared to the facility’s needs. Therefore, whole trees from public lands would constitute the majority of the feedstock needed.

 Over 800 trucks a day would be required to supply the Boardman facility during peak operation.

 PGE is growing a highly invasive species of giant cane as a feedstock. Arundo Donax causes major damage to ecosystems and watersheds and is opposed as a viable energy solution by dozens of environmental grboardman_coaloups.

“The retirement of the Boardman facility creates an opportunity to replace coal with clean energy like wind and solar, which would be in keeping with the landmark coal transition legislation passed in Oregon earlier this year,” said Rhett Lawrence, legislative director for the Oregon Sierra Club. “There is simply no need to turn our forests into fuel because cleaner energy alternatives are already at hand.”

 

Even though the carbon consequences of biomass are well established, Congress is currently considering legislation that would designate biomass energy as “carbon-neutral.” Just as oil, coal, and gas must be kept in the ground, if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, so too must trees be kept in the forest.